State Update: MAJOR ACTIONS IN FEBRUARY
This update summarizes major developments in the states, including legislation that has passed at least one house of the legislature, executive branch actions and judicial decisions.
As of March 1, legislatures in 38 states (AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV and WI) were in regular session. The legislature in New Mexico had adjourned for the year and the legislatures in six states (AR, MT, NV, ND, OR and TX) will not convene in a regular session in 2004. The legislatures in the remaining states will convene later in the year.
Click here for updates from previous months.
Click here for a summary of state legislation enacted in 2004.
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PREGNANCY & BIRTH
Comprehensive Abortion Bans
The South Dakota legislature passed a sweeping bill to prohibit all abortions, except when the pregnancy would either endanger the woman's life or cause her irreversible physical harm. A physician violating the law would be charged of a felony. If signed by Gov. Mike Rounds (R), the law would become effective July 1, 2004.
Bans on "Partial-Birth" Abortion
The Utah legislature passed a bill that would amend the state's "partial-birth" abortion ban. The bill would eliminate the health exception included in the current law and would allow the procedure only when the woman's life is threatened. In addition, the measure would delete the existing law's reference to dilation and extraction, potentially making the ban applicable to other abortion procedures. The measure would also allow the "father" of the fetus and as the pregnant women's parents to file a civil action. The bill awaits action by Gov. Olene Walker (R).
A federal District Court judge permanently enjoined Virginia's ban on "partial-birth" abortion that had been enacted last year. The judge ruled that because of the vagueness of the law's definition of the procedure being banned and the absence of a health exception, the measure did not meet the requirements of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2000 ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart.
Limitations on Public Funding of Abortion for Low-Income Women
The Utah legislature passed a bill to permit public funding of abortion when the woman would suffer irreparable physical harm as a result of the pregnancy. Currently, the state funds abortions only in cases of life endangerment, rape and incest. If signed by Gov. Olene Walker (R), the law would become effective in June.
Using Revenue from "Choose Life" License Plates to Fund Crisis Pregnancy Centers
The Kentucky Senate passed a bill to create Choose Life license plates. If the measure is enacted, proceeds from the sale of the plates would be distributed to organizations that counsel women on the option of adoption.
Requirements for Parental Involvement in Minors' Abortions
The Georgia Senate passed a bill that would amend the state's parental notification law. The measure would require a parent or guardian to show proof of identification when accompanying a minor seeking an abortion. Alternatively, the physician would be required to inform one parent of the minor's intent, as well as the location of the abortion facility, at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. If the parent being notified indicates either that he or she already knew of the minor's intent or has no wish to consult with the minor, the waiting period may be waived. The bill would allow the minor to petition for a judicial bypass.
The Michigan legislature failed to override Gov. Jennifer Granholm's (D) veto of a measure to amend the judicial bypass provisions of the state's existing parental consent statute. The measure would have outlined specific factors that a judge must consider when ruling on a minor's request, including familial dependence, school attendance, academic performance, life experiences and the circumstances of the pregnancy, as well as the reasons for seeking an abortion and for wanting a judicial bypass. The current law specifies only that a judge consider the minor's maturity when ruling on a minor's request.
Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Periods Before Abortion
The Arizona legislature passed a bill to require a woman to receive counseling and then wait 24 hours before having an abortion. The bill, which includes an exception in the case of a medical emergency, requires the physician to inform the woman of the gestational age of the fetus, risks associated with the procedure and alternatives to abortion. Prior to the procedure, the woman must certify in writing that she has received counseling. The measure is awaiting action by Gov. Janet Napolitano (D).
Requirements that Abortion Providers Report Statistical Information to State Agencies
The South Dakota legislature passed a bill to expand the information physicians are required to report about abortion procedures. Specifically, the measure would require reporting of information on the woman's marital and educational status, race and whether she is Hispanic. Additionally, if the woman is younger than 16, the physician would be required to include information on the age of the "father"; the measure would specially permit this information to be used during any subsequent legal proceedings. Current law requires reporting only of information on the abortion method used, gestational age and reason for the procedure. If signed by Gov. Mike Rounds (R), the law would become effective in July.
PREGNANCY & BIRTH
Allowing Pharmacists to Provide Emergency Contraception without a Prescription
The Maine legislature passed a bill to allow pharmacists to provide emergency contraception under collaborative practice agreements with individuals permitted by state law to prescribe medication. The measure would require pharmacists to undergo specific training and provide patients with a fact sheet that would be developed by the state's pharmacy board. The bill is awaiting signature by Gov. John Baldacci (D).
Restricting Access to Emergency Contraception
The Virginia House passed a bill that would require minors seeking emergency contraception to receive parental consent, except when doing so could negatively affect the minor's health. The bill would also require that minors be told the potential risks of emergency contraception and that it "may inhibit implantation of a live human embryo." This information would have to either be provided in person or by telephone at least four hours before emergency contraception is prescribed or be mailed at least 48 hours in advance. The bill is now under consideration by the Senate.
A committee in the Virginia Senate rejected a bill that would have banned the provision of emergency contraception by public universities; the measure had previously passed the House.
Establishing the Right to Refuse to Provide General Medical Services
The Wisconsin legislature passed a measure to expand the services that health care providers and institutions may refuse to provide because of their religious or moral objections; it would also expand the right to refuse to include nurses and pharmacists. Under current law, providers may refuse to provide services related to abortion, sterilization or "embryo removal." The new law would allow providers to refuse to participate in fetal tissue transplantation or the destruction of human embryos. The bill, is awaiting action by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D).
The Virginia House passed a bill that would amend the state's sex education law by requiring that any sex education taught in the state include information about the importance of seeking medical treatment and advice in the event of a sexual assault. (Language requiring the inclusion of information on the positive and negative effects of emergency contraception use by sexual assault victims that was in the measure as originally introduced was removed on the House floor.) The bill is now under consideration by the Senate.
Penalizing Assault on Fetuses and Pregnant Women
Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) signed legislation that would allow an "unborn child" from the moment of conception to be considered a victim of murder. The law exempts actions taken by a health care provider during a legal abortion, fertility procedures and medical treatment, as well as actions taken by a pregnant woman, that result in the end of a pregnancy.
Two identical fetal homicide measures have passed both chambers of the Virginia legislature. The measures would allow a fetus to be considered a victim of murder, regardless of whether the act was premeditated. The bills are now awaiting action by Gov. Mark Warner (D).
Regulating Stem-Cell and Embryo Research
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) signed a bill that bans human cloning, stem cell research and a commonly used procedure that places the nucleus of one cell into a different one. The law goes into effect in July.
Production of the State Update is made possible by support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Prospect Hill Foundation.